At the start of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, we asked companies to help us send a message that Facebook must stop valuing profits over hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and disinformation.
The success of this campaign is unmistakable. We forced an unprecedented public examination of Facebook’s deep harms to marginalized communities and the health of our democracy. This didn’t happen overnight. It was built on years of campaigning by civil rights organizations, media responsibility groups and Black leadership. Before these efforts, Facebook fiercely opposed civil rights protections and totally expunging hate unless there were public relations crises to handle.
But our forces combined with the support of more than 1100 companies including major corporations and small businesses; more than 100+ nonprofits including racial justice, human rights and labor groups, religious organizations; and countless individuals — we sent a clear message to Facebook’s leadership: this does not stand with our common values and society is no longer willing to tolerate your inaction and profiting from hate and misinformation.
Since the start of our campaign, some of the most iconic brands in the world have pulled millions in ad dollars from the platform. Stop Hate for Profit already forced Facebook to make a series of concessions to long-standing demands of civil rights organizations. They announced the creation of a senior role to oversee civil rights. They established a dedicated team to study algorithmic racial bias. They publicly released their long-delayed civil rights audit that demonstrated their “vexing” policy decisions were “setbacks for civil rights.” Their new commitment to an independent audit may end up satisfying one of our demands if it is independent, transparent, and public. And they have finally begun taking long overdue action against some hateful movements like Boogaloo. If not for Stop Hate for Profit and this extraordinary coalition of businesses, nonprofits and consumers, none of this would have happened. But this is not close to what needs to happen.
Other social media companies have heard our message and started to step up. For example, Twitter took strong action against dangerous conspiracy theories that have led to real-life violence. Reddit took action by updating its content policies to better address hate and removed over 2000 hate-filled subreddits. YouTube took overdue action against white supremacists who use their platform. While these steps are not sufficient, they show a commitment toward real progress. More importantly, these companies are sitting at the table with us and actively working to take additional steps to protect the civil rights of their users, tackle hate and harassment on their platforms, and safeguard our democracy.
Stop Hate for Profit sent a clear message that Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to hear by the collective actions of many, not just our coalition. He cannot turn away from the demands of his employees, the demands of his advertisers, the demands of his users, and the demands of society. Zuckerberg didn’t expect advertisers to revolt, they did. He didn’t expect employees to speak up, they did. He didn’t expect civil rights organizations to unite, we did. He didn’t expect Facebook to pay a financial price, it did.
To be clear, Mr. Zuckerberg has not yet approached the type of meaningful action that we want to see. The issue is not that Facebook just lags competitors in working systemically to address hate and bigotry on their platform. To use a favorite term of Facebook’s leadership, Facebook’s attitude towards seriously addressing how their algorithms push hate, violent conspiracy theories, and disinformation is transparently “inauthentic.” Mr. Zuckerberg treats meetings and dialogue as outcomes. He puts more effort into obfuscation, lobbying, and distribution of misleading talking points than seriously addressing the deadly consequences of his choice to profit from hate. In the words of one of their own engineers who resigned this month over leadership’s unwillingness to take action on problematic content, “Facebook is hurting people at scale.” Society cannot afford the Facebook status quo.
We called for a Facebook ad pause for the month of July as the mobilization for the Stop Hate for Profit movement. Many companies, frustrated by Facebook’s unwillingness to address their concerns, have already said they are not ready to return to Facebook’s platforms. We applaud them for that decision. We see this movement growing in Europe and in other areas. And we have explicit commitments from many advertisers to participate in future pauses and new actions if Facebook continues to ignore their demands for change.
This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign – it was a warning shot across Facebook’s bow. This movement only will get bigger and broader until Facebook takes the common-sense steps necessary to mitigate the damage it causes. And it has spurred additional constituencies who also are demanding change. We saw this demonstrated in full force yesterday in Congress where legislators forced Mark Zuckerberg to testify and held him accountable for Facebook’s failures. And we expect more constituencies will emerge in the coming weeks as this movement gains even more momentum.
Now, we know that change will not happen overnight, and we remain willing to engage with Facebook when they are prepared to commit to a public timeframe and substantive action relative to our very straightforward demands.
Mark Zuckerberg, the ball is in your court.